Question on Animal Rights Activism on Farms

Ms BATH (Eastern Victoria) (10:29): Twelve months ago in the Morwell Magistrates Court a law-abiding farmer whose farm was invaded by activists and who had livestock stolen listened to the magistrate fine the perpetrator a paltry sum of $1 and ask them to pay $250 in compensation for the loss of stock. One year on, John Gommans has not received one cent of compensation from the perpetrator. In Victoria, victims are left to enforce, through civil proceedings, uncompensated funds. If a perpetrator does not pay, the victim then becomes a victim for a second time.

Last year in this Parliament we had the opportunity, through the farm trespass report, to be able to set right this shocking imbalance and provide justice for victims. However, instead of adopting the Liberals’ and Nationals’ recommendations to implement statutory minimum penalties and strengthen trespass laws, which would act as a real deterrent, the government members of that committee actually voted to codify public interest exemptions. What that means is that anyone caught breaking onto a farm and installing a camera could argue that it is in the public interest even though this is trespassing on farm land and property. Mr Gommans and all our farming families are right to be frustrated that they, the people who feed and clothe us, are being betrayed by Labor. Is this the way Labor governments commit people to being victims twice over?